March 13, 2018 / 3:40 PM / 9 days ago

U.N. official says violence and torture continues on Rohingya

DHAKA (Reuters) - Crimes verging on genocide were being committed against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, and those crimes bore “the fingerprints of the Myanmar government and of the international community”, the United Nations special adviser on the prevention of genocide said on Tuesday.

Women walk across a bamboo bridge in the Kutupalong camp for Rohingya refugees in southern Bangladesh, February 11, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew RC Marshall/Files

Adama Dieng spent a week in Bangladesh to assess the condition of the almost 700,000 Rohingyas who had fled across the border from Myanmar, and he said during his trip he heard “terrifying stories.”

“Rohingya Muslims have been killed, tortured, raped, burnt alive and humiliated, solely because of who they are,” Dieng said in a prepared statement.

“All the information I have received indicates that the intent of the perpetrators was to cleanse northern Rakhine state of their existence, possibly even to destroy the Rohingya as such, which, if proven, would constitute the crime of genocide,” he said.

He called on the U.N.’s Security Council to “consider different accountability options.”

Myanmar’s national security adviser, Thaung Tun, last week said his government did not support such atrocities. “It is not the policy of the government, and this we can assure you,” he said. “Although there are accusations, we would like to have clear evidence.”

Myanmar has not allowed U.N. investigators into the country to investigate.

Another U.N. investigator said on Monday that Myanmar had launched new military operations against the Rohingya. Heavy artillery was being used in the offensives, U.N. Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Dieng also blamed an international community that “has buried its head in the sand” for the campaign against the Rohingya. During a press conference in Dhaka on Tuesday, he called on neighbouring powers China and India to “show not only political or economic leadership” but also “moral leadership.”

“The world,” he said in Tuesday’s statement, “needs to show that it is not ready to tolerate such barbaric acts.”

Reporting By Serajul Quadir; additional reporting by Tom Miles from Geneva; editing by Larry King

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